Hit the brakes! Mayoral candidates talk bike lanes

With Quinn, there’s no cheesecake
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

Forget soda bans, term limits, and high-rising development — Mayor Bloomberg’s biggest contribution to the city is the proliferation of bike lanes. But what will happen when Hizzoner’s time in office comes to an end?

We chatted with seven mayoral hopefuls, and in one way or another they all said the path to installing bike lanes should be bumpier than it has been under Bloomberg and Department of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan:

Christine Quinn: “I’m a supporter of bike lanes — but the way the Department of Transportation had been implementing them, without any meaningful outreach or dialogue with local communities and community boards, was not the right approach. As speaker, we changed the policy to make it mandatory that Department of Transportation consult with local community boards.”

Joe Lhota: “We need to have more community involvement where they’re located. And we need to have more enforcement of bike riders — if it’s one way for cars, it’s one way for bikes. We should avoid bike lanes that impede economic and commercial activity and keep them to residential streets … Bikes and buses should not share the same streets.”

Bill DeBlasio: “The motivation [for bike lanes] has been noble but the approach has often been without the kind of communication with the community that I’d like. What I’d say is that let’s look at actual evidence, not biased evidence, about what has happened with each of them. Where they’ve worked, great, let’s keep them. Where they haven’t worked, let’s revise them or change them.”

Bill DeBlasio says it's time to review which bike lanes work, and which ones don't.
Community Newspaper Group / Tom Callan

John Liu: “There are too many of them. It would be one thing if the lanes were cluttered with bike traffic, but they aren’t. There’s a lot of competition for street space. There are a lot of people looking for parking spaces and trying to get around in their cars. We need parking spaces and traffic lanes. We need equilibrium.”

Sal Albanese: “They are a positive thing overall, but I do believe that you need more community input before you install them. I’ve had people tell me that the city rammed the bike lanes down their throats and no one consulted with them. Getting people on bikes is a good thing. You want to get people out of their cars as much as possible. I do think there is room for growth.”

John Catsimatidis: “I hate them. I don’t think they serve a lot of purpose. They cause more problems than they solve. You have thousands of cars stuck in traffic and four bicycles going by. It makes no sense. Unless someone convinces me otherwise, I would reduce them or get rid of them completely.”

Tom Allon: “Bike lanes are a great idea that need methodical and careful execution, which has not happened thus far. We need a coordinated strategy to place them mostly on residential streets in a contiguous loop and with crosstown transverses … so as not to impede pedestrian and vehicular traffic. We must be a pedestrian, car, and bike friendly metropolis.”

Sal Albanese says people need more notifacation when bike lanes are headed their way.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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